No cheaper alternative food left for the poor

The price of broiler chicken increased to Tk210 per kg, sonali chicken to Tk310-320 per kg, and the price of eggs increased to Tk155-160 per dozen

Shahjahan is a rickshaw puller who earns around Tk900-1200 and has to pay his rickshaw owner around Tk200-300 everyday. That leaves him around Tk600 a day for food and daily expenses.  

“I have a family of 4 and have to spend money carefully. Usually, to reduce the cost, I eat attar ruti for 1 or 2 meals a day, which saves a little from buying rice now,” he said.

But now, things have changed. The price of atta (flour) and coarse rice is almost the same – both around Tk52-55 per kg – which was between Tk45-50 for rice and Tk28-30 for atta just a year ago, he added.

“I don't know which one to eat as an alternative anymore. My income is not increasing. Due to the increase in the price of everything, passengers also get angry if we ask for more as they are also suffering from the price hike,” he added.

Moreover, those who used to ride rickshaws for short distances, now go on foot, he added.

The hike in fuel prices on August 6 impacted the commodity market drastically as the price of essential products like rice, pulses, fish, meat, vegetables and eggs has gone up. 

According to the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the loose and packed atta saw a yearly hike in price by 58.33% and 54.41% respectively, whereas loose and packed all-purpose flour (maida) saw a hike of 57.53% and 55.17% respectively.

However, people say that the data provided by the TCB is not always accurate as the real scenario of the retail market is totally different.

In the turmoil that is the rice market, the price of a kilogram of nazirshail rice hiked to Tk80, coarse to Tk54-57, and paijam to Tk60-65, which was around Tk5-7 less last week.

The owner of Comilla Rice Agency of Karwan Bazar said that the price of rice has increased by Tk150-200 per bag at the wholesale level due to the increase in the price of fuel, which impacted the transportation costs and costs of running mills. 

Robiul Islam of Laxmipur Store of Karwan Bazar said that after the rise in fuel prices, the prices of all kinds of commodities rose again leading to a further hike in the prices of atta and maida, which were already rising due to war since March.

Basic source of protein out of reach 

The price of broiler chicken increased to Tk210 per kg, sonali chicken to Tk310-320 per kg, and the price of eggs increased to Tk155-160 per dozen.

While visiting Karwan Bazar, there were no fish available under Tk200 per kg. The price of pangas fish (South Asian catfish), also surged along with rui (local carp), katla (major South Asian carp), and pabda (Indian catfish).

Most middle and lowered-income people heavily rely on the above items for protein.

But due to this price hike, most sources of animal protein are out of reach for the middle and lower income groups. 

Sirazul Islam, a private job holder, said that he used to eat chicken because he cannot afford to buy beef or mutton anymore. 

“Now, the situation stands at the point that I have to stop eating chicken too,” he added, saying that no sources of protein are left for them.

Amit Saha, a student and a job seeker, who lives in a mess (bachelor house), said that eggs were  the prime source of protein at their mess. 

“Now, eggs are gradually going out of reach too,” he added, saying that their meal charge is increasing by leaps and bounds every month.

Volatile fruit market

The transport costs increased due to the hike in fuel prices and the devaluation of the Taka against the dollar. It increased the cost of imports, which led to the prevailing turbulent situation in the fruit market.

Apple is being sold at Tk240-300 per kg based on variants, while orange and malta are being sold at Tk250-280 per kg. It was seen after visiting several kitchen markets of the capital.

The price of pineapple also hiked to Tk80-130 per two pieces based on size, where green coconut hiked to 100-120 per piece, lemon Tk60 per dozen, and banana Tk90-120 per dozen based on variants.

Requesting anonymity, an officer of the state-owned Bangladesh Krishi Bank said that now, he feels afraid to go to the market and the balance of income and expenses does not match in such an unstrained market.

Sugar: Sweet or Sour?

The price of sugar has increased by Tk5-7 per kg in a span of two days to Tk90 per kg in Karwan Bazar, which was Tk82 a week ago. 

However, packaged sugar is being sold at Tk85 per kg. But the supply of this sugar in the market is significantly low.

Basic commodities and vegetable see a rise too

The transportation cost has increased due to the surge in fuel prices, which has affected the vegetable market as well. Almost every day, the price of vegetables is increasing by Tk10 to Tk20 per unit. 

The prices of all types of vegetables have surged by Tk20-50 per unit. The gourd was sold at Tk70-80 per kg, long beans at Tk60-65, eggplant at Tk80, cucumber at Tk80, and green chillies at Tk200-220 per kg.

The price of lentils hiked to Tk140 per kg for the finer version and Tk110 per kg for the coarse version. 

The price of garlic, ginger, meat, onions – almost everything has been experiencing a new hike almost every day.